On December 13th, Saint Lucia Day, your family can pay homage to the fourth-century saint remembered for her hospitality. This festive bread is inspired by the candle-covered crown she is said to have worn to light her way as she brought food to the poor.
Warm the milk in a small saucepan, then pour 1/2 cup of it into a large bowl.
Add the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and let it set for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the remaining milk.
Add the butter and milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk in the eggs, juice, 1/4 cup of sugar, orange rind, and salt.
Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes, adding more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic and does not stick to your hands.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning it once to coat it. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 11/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a 30-inch rope and braid the ropes together.
Transfer the braid to a greased baking sheet, pinch together the ends to form a circle, and let it rise until it has again doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375_. Bake the bread for 25 minutes or until golden brown, then let it cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
Drizzle the glaze mix over the bread, then garnish with the cranberries. Finally, add candles, if you'd like. Serves 12.